In reading the course material for participatory service and transparency, I wish I had been recording my facial expressions. As I viewed a slide for Stephens’ lecture (Stephens, 2017) that read “We designed our libraries for people, not books,” I’m pretty sure my eyes widened, my eyebrows shot up, and I sat up straighter in my chair at Starbucks. What a wonderful idea to add to the discussion on participatory service, and transparency.
In the participatory service angle, the article that interested me the most was “Making Libraries Visible on the Web” (Fons, 2016). The author, Ted Fons, is a friend and former colleague, and all-around genuinely awesome person. He discusses in this article one of my favorite library subjects: linked data. As part of participatory service, he asks us to think of our metadata as it relates to findability and making this data attainable from sources other than our silo’d library catalogs. He emphasizes that, “Making libraries more visible on the web has two benefits: improving the service for the ones who are already committed to the library—they use search engines, too—and giving libraries the opportunity to reach those who never—or only sometimes—think about the library.” If you’re interested in learning more about linked data and the BibFrame project (and want to geek out like I do anytime someone mentions anything new about metadata), here’s a video that I found very useful when I was trying to learn more about this subject:
On the library transparency side, Kenney (2015) writes in “Lessons from Seattle’s Failed Bid to Rebrand its Public Library” about the corporate culture infiltrating a public library, and how the two are not quite a match made in heaven. Seattle Public Library (SPL) was set to spend around $2 million dollars on their rebranding effort, an effort that was roundly criticized. SPL surveyed their patrons, which is commendable, but the resounding answer from those constituents was that this rebranding effort was a waste of money. There is a dichotomy between the corporate, buzzword world that we are accustomed to and the public library. When I worked in a library software company, I very much felt that our mission was in line with libraries, and that helping people and the community was paramount. However, when the company was purchased by a private equity firm, I felt that the heavy corporate culture began to clash heavily with the library world and librarians in general. At one conference, the new CEO got up to speak and was introduced to the audience of librarians via flashing lights and rock music. I sat in the audience, mortified, unsure if this was an Apple iPhone launch or an introduction to some software updates for the library discovery layer. It was so clear that these two worlds were opposites. The library has its own culture that is unique, special, and powerful. A culture that puts patrons first. As Kenney (2015) writes, “whatever it is we are proposing, it has to be about creating a better library for the public.”
Billey, A. (2015, December 2). Essential BIBFRAME. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJrs2Yrhqg8
Fons, T. (2016). Making libraries visible on the web. Library Journal. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2016/08/lj-in-print/making-libraries-visible-on-the-web-the-digital-shift/#_
Kenney, B. (2015). Lessons from Seattle’s failed bid to rebrand its public library. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/libraries/article/68666-brand-awareness-lessons-from-seattle-s-failed-bid-to-rebrand-its-public-library.html